The Reds should look outside the organization for Tyler Stephenson's backup in 2023

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Second-year catcher Tyler Stephenson has missed a great deal of time away from the diamond this season. Stephenson suffered a concussion earlier this year, a broken right thumb in June, and hit the IL for good in July with a broken clavicle.

Both Stephenson and Jonathan India have dealt with their fair share of injuries this season, but the Cincinnati Reds have more than enough talented infielders on the roster and in the farm system in the event that the reigning NL Rookie of the Year misses significant time due to injury. The same cannot be said of the Reds depth behind the plate.

Since Stephenson hit the IL, the Reds have attempted to use Aramis Garcia, Austin Romine, Michael Papierski, Mark Kolozsvary, and Chuckie Robinson behind the dish. None of them have even come close to proving that they could carry the load.

The Reds should look outside the organization for Tyler Stephenson's backup in 2023.

In terms of next season, the Cincinnati Reds will have to make a decision in regards to every one of their catchers on the 40-man roster with the exception of Austin Romine. The longtime New York Yankees' backstop will be a free agent. It would not be surprising to see Cincinnati attempt to re-sign the veteran during the offseason, but Romine may have better offers.

When it comes to the quartet of Mark Kolozsvary, Michael Papierski, Aramis Garcia, and Chuckie Robinson are all pre-arbitration eligible. Cincinnati may look to hold on to one of those four catchers, but that would only be for depth in the minor leagues.

Instead, Cincinnati should look at the free agent market and attempt to find a stop-gap option until one of the young catchers in the Reds farm system proves himself capable of handling the rigors of squatting behind the plate for 60-plus games in the big leagues.

Former Reds catchers Curt Casali and Tucker Barnhart will be both free agents this winter. Might Cincinnati's front office entertain the idea of offering one of them an incentive-laden one-year contract? There's also Jason Castro, Austin Hedges, and Kevin Plawecki.

The most advanced of the Reds young catching prospects is probably Daniel Vellojin. The 22-year-old has shown tremendous power at times during minor league action, but the Colombian still has a ways to go before making the jump to the big leagues.

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